Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Another woman dean

The Prime Minister’s office has announced that the next Dean of Guildford is to be the Revd Canon Dianna Gwilliams. The official press release is here, and is copied below the fold.

Canon Gwilliams will be the fifth woman to become a cathedral dean in the Church of England.

The diocese of Guildford has this announcement.

Canon Gwilliams is currently working in the diocese of Southwark, which has its own announcement here.

Press Release from the Prime Minister’s Office

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Dianna Lynn Gwilliams, to be appointed to be Dean of Guildford.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Dianna Lynn Gwilliams, MA, Vicar of St Barnabas, Dulwich and Foundation Chaplain of Alleyn’s Foundation, Dulwich in the Diocese of Southwark, and Honorary Canon of Southwark Cathedral, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit in Guildford, on the resignation of the Very Reverend Victor Andrew Stock, OAM, AKC, FRSA, on 31 July 2012.

Notes for editors

The Reverend Canon Dianna Gwillliams (aged 55) studied Physics and Chemistry at the University of California for her BA, and then moved to London in 1978 to continue her work as a Sound Engineer. She trained for ordination with the Southwark Ordination Course and was ordained deacon in 1992 and priest in 1994. She served her first curacy in Peckham, southeast London, at Copleston Centre Church (a Local Ecumenical Partnership) and second curacy at St Barnabas, Dulwich, before applying for, and being appointed Vicar of St Barnabas and Foundation Chaplain of Edward Alleyn’s Foundation in 1999. She gained an MA Youth Ministry and Theological Education from King’s College, London in 2001.

In addition to these responsibilities Dianna has also served as Area Dean of Dulwich from 2005 to 2012, Diocesan Dean of Women’s Ministry from 2009 to 2012 and has just completed 12 months as Acting Archdeacon of Southwark. Since 2006 she has been an Honorary Canon of Southwark Cathedral.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 11:59am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: General Synod

West Indies bishops issue statement on same-sex unions

The House of Bishops and the Standing Committee of the Province of the West Indies have issued a Provincial Statement on Same-Sex Unions.

The full text of this statement is copied below the fold. The Diocese of Jamaica has this press statement:

The House of Bishops and the Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) have stated that the idea of same-sex unions is totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds. And they have urged leaders of government, civil society, and the people of the English-speaking Caribbean “to resist any attempt to compromise our cultural and religious principles regarding these matters.”

In a statement issued on April 25 from their meeting at the Provincial Secretariat at Bamford House in Barbados, the Bishops and Standing Committee noted trends in developed nations and the international forums in which these nations exercise control “in which matters related to human sexuality have been elevated to the level of human rights and are being promulgated as positions which must be accepted globally.” The statement further noted that frequently, failure by developing nations to conform, results in the threat of various sanctions, including the withholding of economic aid.

However the Bishops and Standing Committee cautioned that “the dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike.”

While acknowledging the diversity of family patterns within the Caribbean region, they noted that these have been understood by Caribbean people to be between a man and a woman. The Bishops and Standing Committee argued that if human rights are being invoked as the basis for same-sex unions, that same principle should be applied to allow Caribbean people the right to affirm their cultural and religious convictions regarding their definitions of marriage.

The House of Bishops includes some 23 Bishops (in service and retired) from the eight Dioceses in the English-speaking Caribbean, who meet twice a year to reflect on issues concerning the mission of the Anglican Church in the Region. The Standing Committee comprises clergy and laity elected to represent their Dioceses at the Provincial Synod which meets every three years. The last Provincial Synod was hosted by the Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands in November 2012.

The eight Dioceses in the CPWI are: The Diocese of Barbados, the Diocese of Belize, the Diocese of Guyana, the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba, the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago and the Diocese of the Windward Islands.

Provincial Statement on Same-Sex Unions
April 25, 2013

The House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies meeting at Bamford House in Barbados extend greetings to the faithful of the Province and the leaders of our nations charged with responsibility for governance.

In the course of our deliberations we have taken note of the fact that our nations are facing serious economic and social challenges which are currently taxing the human and material resourcefulness of our peoples, a situation complicated by developments in the global economy.

We have taken note also of trends within countries of the developing world and international forums, and in which these countries exercise a controlling interest, in which matters related to human sexuality have been elevated to the level of human rights and are being promulgated as positions which must be accepted globally. Frequently, failure to conform by developing nations like our own, results in the threat of various sanctions, including the withholding of economic aid.

More specifically, there is a re-definition of gender to accommodate gay, lesbian and transgendered people, and the creation of a plurality of definitions which leaves the issue of gender to self-definition, thereby dismissing traditional definition of male and female. Additionally, there is the passage of legislation among a number of metropolitan nations whereby marriage is defined as a human right in which any two persons may be joined, inclusive of persons of the same sex. The “marriage” of persons of the same sex is justified as a human right on the basis of marital equality with heterosexual unions.

While we acknowledge that there is a diversity of family patterns within our Caribbean region, these have been understood by our people to be between a man and a woman, whether defined in terms of the natural order of creation or on the basis of religious beliefs which see these grounded in the purpose of God.

We reaffirm marriage as “a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of His grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society. It continues to provide the best context for the raising of children”. (1) Characteristic of our patterns of cohabitation and family life is the notion that such unions are based on a relationship between a man and a woman. The idea of such unions being constituted by persons of the same sex is, therefore, totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds.

While we recognize that the role of the Church and the State are not the same, the Church’s task being distinctly different from the State, the Church’s mandate is informed by pastoral and doctrinal concerns and in drawing the attention of the faithful to the source and purpose of marriage, and in solemnizing such unions. The governments have the responsibility of providing the kind of legal framework for protecting, but not defining, this most basic social institution on which the stability of society and the socialization of its members rest, as well as protecting the members of such unions against abuse and injustice.

We are conscious of the fact that our political leaders within our Caribbean region are being subjected to pressures from nations and institutions from outside of our region. Frequently they are pressured to conform to the changes being undertaken in their redefinition of human sexuality and same-sex unions, under threat of economic sanctions and the loss of humanitarian aid. We urge our leaders of government and of civil society, as well as the people of our nations, to resist any attempt to compromise our cultural and religious principles regarding these matters. The dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike.

The threat and use of economic sanctions are not new experiences for us, neither is the claim to a superior morality convincing for peoples who have known the experience of chattel slavery in our past. While claiming to invoke human rights as the basis for such imposition, we submit that the same principle must allow us the right to affirm our cultural and religious convictions regarding our definitions of that most basic of social institutions, marriage.

Footnote
1. Civil Partnerships: A Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England, 2005, para 2.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 at 8:22am BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Monday, 29 April 2013

Dean of Jersey apologises and is reinstated

We reported on 10 March that: Dean of Jersey suspended for safeguarding failure.

Subsequently, we omitted to report that on 26 March the Diocese of Winchester published terms of reference for a Visitation.

Yesterday, the diocese published this press release: Dean of Jersey Apologises and Confirms Commitment.

THE VERY REVEREND ROBERT KEY, the Dean of Jersey, has today apologised for mistakes in the handling of a safeguarding complaint and added his own apology to that of the Bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of Canterbury to the vulnerable person at the heart of this matter.

He has confirmed that he shares the Bishop of Winchester’s and Archbishop of Canterbury’s stated commitment to safeguarding in the Diocese and the wider Church. The Dean was speaking following meetings with the Bishop last week.

The Bishop acknowledges that, although mistakes were made, the Dean believed he was acting in good faith. Following the commitment that the Dean has made, the Bishop has decided that he will issue a new Commission to the Dean with immediate effect. The Bishop and the Dean have also agreed that, in the light of these recent events, there are areas in Jersey Canon Law which would benefit from further review and they are committed to working together as necessary to revise them.

The Dean said: “I regret mistakes that I made in the safeguarding processes and I understand that, upon reflection, it would have been more helpful if I had co-operated more fully with the Korris Review. I now add my own apology to that of the Bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of Canterbury to the vulnerable person at the heart of this matter. I will be cooperating with the Visitation and Investigation announced by the Bishop on 26 March. Together, the Bishop and I are committed to the importance of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults in Jersey and to working to ensure the safeguarding procedures of the Diocese achieve this as part of the whole Church’s mission.”

The Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend Tim Dakin, said: “Safeguarding must always be of paramount concern and is a vital part of the Church’s mission. We will now press ahead with the Visitation and Investigation and see them through to their conclusions, as we all have important lessons to learn. At the heart of this matter is safeguarding the vulnerable who have frequently been let down by the Church. The Dean’s apology is a welcome one, and I am glad that he has joined with me in reaffirming our commitment to safeguarding. I am also glad that the Dean has promised his full cooperation with these inquiries. I wish to assure the Dean and the people of Jersey of my prayers as we go forward together.”

And the Jersey Evening Post reports Dean of Jersey is reinstated.

THE Dean of Jersey has been officially reinstated after apologising for mistakes made in the handling of a complaint from a parishioner about sexual misconduct.

Almost two months after being effectively suspended by the Bishop of Winchester after an independent review found that he did not follow proper practice or take the complaint seriously, the Dean, Very Rev Bob Key, returned to normal duties at 9 am this morning. The decision from the Bishop, the Right Rev Tim Dakin, followed meetings between the two men last week.

Mr Key led Sunday’s 10 am service at the Town Church, which was attended by the Bailiff, Sir Michael Birt, and the Lieutenant Governor, General Sir John McColl, and has said he will cooperate fully with an on going investigation into the matter.

There is discussion of all this by Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK Church Safeguarding in Jersey – Progress.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 29 April 2013 at 9:07am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 27 April 2013

"Church of England diocese asks for gay-friendly bishop"

Updated Sunday afternoon

Edward Malnick and John Bingham in The Telegraph tonight report that Church of England diocese asks for gay-friendly bishop.

The Diocese of Manchester has instructed the official panel appointing its new bishop to select someone who can establish “positive relationships” with gay Anglicans and non-worshippers.

The panel, which met on Friday, was told that the successor to the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, who retired earlier this year, should build on “significant engagement” with “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities” in Manchester…

If the usual timetable has been followed, this week’s meeting of the CNC will have chosen a name to send to the Prime Minister, but we will have to wait for a month or so for the official announcement of who is to be the next Bishop of Manchester.

Update
Manchester published its Profile and Statement of Needs of the Diocese of Manchester 2013 on 15 March 2013. It can be downloaded as a 26 page pdf.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 27 April 2013 at 10:34pm BST | Comments (55) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Profile of Anglicans

Updated Saturday evening

Yesterday’s Church Times has an article by Linda Woodhead about a survey that “suggests that non-churchgoing Anglicans may be much more important to the Church and its future than the dismissive word “nominals” implies.”

The article is only available to Church Times subscribers, but British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) has a summary in Profile of Anglicans and Other News. The survey shows that self-identifying Anglicans divide into four categories.

Godfearing Churchgoers (5% of Anglicans)
Mainstream Churchgoers (12% of Anglicans)
Non-Churchgoing Believers (50% of Anglicans)
Non-Churchgoing Doubters (33% of Anglicans)

The BRIN article also reports on surveys on St George’s Day and Student faith.

Update
Jonathan Clatworthy has written about the survey of Anglicans for Modern Church: On not going to church.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 27 April 2013 at 11:05am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church in Wales | Church of England | Scottish Episcopal Church | statistics

opinion

Jonathan Chaplin writes for Fulcrum about The Church of England and the Funeral of Baroness Thatcher.

Christopher Howse writes about Thomas Traherne in The music made by grains of sand in his Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph.

Jonathan Brown reports for The Independent that single Christians feel unsupported by family-focused churches.

David Cloake (the Vernacular Vicar) blogs about The ‘Hit and Miss’ of Funeral Ministry.

Theo Hobson writes in The Spectator that The Church of England needs a compromise on gay marriage. Here it is.

Premier Radio has interviewed Rowan Wiliams about Love, Liberty and Life after Canterbury.

Scott Stephens for ABC Religion and Ethics asks Can a religious believer be a serious journalist? Richard Dawkins and the unbearable smugness of tweeting.
On the same topic The Heresiarch blogs about Dawkins and the Flying Horse and Andrew Brown writes for The Guardian that Richard Dawkins’ latest anti-Muslim Twitter spat lays bare his hypocrisy.

And here’s one that I missed from a few weeks ago.
Paul Goodman in The Telegraph asks Does religion still have a place in today’s politics?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 27 April 2013 at 11:00am BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 26 April 2013

Church Times: Selling marriage short

The Church Times has ignored its own advice and published a second leader further criticising the CofE marriage report: Selling marriage short.

…By taking its cue from the same-sex-marriage debate, and being drawn into tendentious pronouncements about men and women, the report wastes an opportunity to say something positive about marriage in relation to what would once have been termed “living in sin”. The authors elevate marriage above other forms of relationship without ever defining it: are couples deemed to be married if they have not passed through what the report calls “the regulation of formalities”, for example? It argues that the Church’s permitting marriage after divorce has not materially changed its teaching. Yet the prevalence of divorce has done more damage than any other factor to the concept of marital fidelity. Finally, the lack of attention given to relationships before marriage means that the report fails to address the source of the greatest pressure on young people: the severance of sex and commitment.

It is generally unfair to criticise a work for not being something else. We have not dwelt on the sins of commission - the obscure language, the unsupported pronouncements - but in this instance, the sins of omission have created the greatest disappointment. Marriage is a precious element in our society, and it needs a more robust defence.

There is also an excellent article by Jane Shaw titled Men, women, and difference which discusses the complementarity of the sexes as a a comparatively new invention. Sadly this is subscriber-only but for those who can read it the link is here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 26 April 2013 at 7:00am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Christian Legal Centre throws down the gauntlet

Shirley Chaplin, Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele are to appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights against the rejection of their claims by the Fourth Section.

For previous reports on these cases, see here, and for subsequent commentary, go here, and follow the links back to earlier articles.

News of the appeal was reported by the Telegraph in Christians launch landmark human rights case.

…Papers in the three cases are to be submitted this week that will claim British courts are applying double standards towards Christians for “political” reasons, and that human rights rules have been used to effectively outlaw beliefs which have been held for millennia while affording special recognition to minority opinions on anything from fox hunting to climate change.
Meanwhile “self-evidently absurd” health and safety rules are being used as a “ruse” to prevent Christians wearing crosses while outward expressions of other faiths are welcomed, they say.
An overzealous and one-sided interpretation of rules has brought human rights law itself into disrepute and exposed the British judiciary itself to “ridicule”, they argue.
The open attack on the judiciary and escalation of rhetoric is a high-risk strategy supporters believe is necessary to “draw a line in the sand”…

Now there are press releases from Christian Concern and the Christian Institute.

…In a written submission to the chamber, it has been argued that the margin of appreciation has been applied in these cases so as to render the protections under Article 9 meaningless, and that UK courts were effectively outlawing Christian beliefs through a one-sided application of human rights law in favour of minority groups.
“The United Kingdom has an overall good record on human rights; in recent years this has come into sharp contrast due to a number of decisions made against Christians,” the submission says.
“Christian views on the upbringing of children by two parents have not been recognised as a religious view at all; whilst views on global warming, fox hunting, and even the BBC as a public broadcaster have been recognised.”
In Gary and Lillian’s case, the ECHR ruled that an infringement upon their religious freedom was necessary in order to protect the freedom of others, whilst in Shirley’s case it said that a similar interference was justified on the grounds of “health and safety”.

The submission argues that Gary “was dismissed for his ‘thoughts’ and ‘religious beliefs’ on a wholly theoretical basis”. Whilst “self-evidently absurd” health and safety rules were being used as a “ruse” to stop Christians from wearing the cross at work, whilst those of other faiths were free to manifest their beliefs.
Meanwhile, lawyers in Lillian’s case have argued that the ruling will have “huge implications” for the freedom of teachers and social workers to practice traditional beliefs on marriage and sexual ethics should same-sex ‘marriage’ be introduced.

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Gary and Shirley, said: “We are throwing down the gauntlet to David Cameron to decide once and for all whether he is in favour of religious freedom or not.
“These are cases where the only victims were the Christians trying to live out their faith in the workplace but who were driven out for doing so.
“As the pleadings in Gary McFarlane’s case make clear, Christians are now being punished for ‘thought crimes’.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 at 8:36am BST | Comments (37) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

update on same-sex marriage in Scotland

The Church of Scotland has published a report for its General Assembly. Here’s the press release: Church Theological Report published and here is the full report (PDF).

David Pocklington has a good summary at Men and Women in Marriage, and the Church of Scotland.

The report was in response to a decision of the General Assembly of 2011 which appointed a Theological Commission to bring a Report to the General Assembly of 2013, which was to provide:

  • ‘a theological discussion of issues around same-sex relationships, civil partnerships and marriage’;
  • an examination of whether the Church should permit ministers to bless same-sex relationships ‘involving life-long commitments’, and to provide a ‘form of a blessing’, or liturgy, if so agreed, and;
  • ‘an examination of whether persons, who have entered into a civil partnership… should be eligible for…ordination… as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons in the context that no member of Presbytery will be required to take part in such ordination or induction against his or her conscience’.

The report considers issues of human sexuality from two opposing points of view:

  • The “Revisionist position” that the Church ought to regard as eligible for ordination as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons those who have entered into a civil partnership; and
  • “The Traditionalist position” that the Church ought not to regard as eligible for ordination as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons those who have entered into a civil partnership.

The seven members of the Theological Commission represented a broad spectrum of the views within the Church of Scotland, with those supporting Revisionist and Traditional points of view being equally represented…

Last year the Scottish Episcopal Church also produced a document, which is available via this page: Grosvenor Essay No 8: Marriage and Human Intimacy and the report itself is here (PDF).

This document did receive some criticism when it was published. See for example, this essay by Beth Routledge and these comments by Kelvin Holdsworth.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 at 8:50am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Scottish Episcopal Church | equality legislation

Sunday, 21 April 2013

update on same-sex marriage laws

Update
The French legislature gave final approval today, with a vote of 331 to 225 in the National Assembly.

While we await the scheduling of Report Stage in the House of Commons for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, there have been developments in several other countries recently.

Starting close to home, the Irish Constitutional Convention has voted strongly in favour of introducing legislation in the Republic of Ireland. Religion and Law UK summarises it this way:

The Irish Convention on the Constitution, established by Resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas to consider and report on various possible constitutional amendments, has recommended in favour of making constitutional provision for same-sex civil marriage. 79 per cent of delegates voted in favour, 19 per cent voted against and 1 per cent abstained. The Convention further voted that any amendment should be directive (“the State shall enact laws providing for same-sex marriage”) rather than permissive (“the State may enact laws… ”). Delegates also agreed that the State should enact laws incorporating any changed arrangements in regard to the parentage, guardianship and the upbringing of children.

A report will now be drafted and the Convention’s recommendations will go to Government – which is committed to responding within four months with a debate in the Oireachtas and, if Parliament agrees the recommendation to amend the Constitution, with a time-frame for a referendum. If Ireland does at some future date enact legislation for same-sex marriage and if it survives the necessary referendum, the likely outcome is that same-sex marriage will become possible in three of the jurisdictions in the [?British ?North-West European] Isles but not, for the foreseeable future, in the fourth: Northern Ireland.

The legislation in France has now passed both houses of the legislature and is expected to obtain its final approval on Tuesday, see this Guardian report: Violence grows as gay marriage bill divides France.

Not all religious bodies in France are totally opposed to this legislation, see this document from the Council of the Fédération protestante de France:

A Declaration on “marriage for all” by the Council of the Fédération protestante de France – 13 October 2012

About « marriage for all »

Since their birth in the sixteenth century Protestant Churches have never included marriage among the sacraments. It follows that they did not adopt the principle of placing marriage, which establishes the couple and the family, under the control of the church.

That means that they do not question the right of the state to legislate about marriage. Although everything contributes to making marriage of people of the same sex a matter for basic disagreement, the Fédération protestante de France does not intend to join a campaign, in view of the fact that it is not an issue at the heart of the Christian faith.

That does not prevent the giving of an opinion. In expressing a point of view on “marriage for all”, la Fédération protestante de France is not trying to a close a debate that has been running for some years between its member churches or within the Churches themselves, a debate which certainly concerns everyone. It refuses to engage in confrontation or relativism and sets out to affirm a process of dialogue…

Elsewhere, both Uruguay and New Zealand have recently completed legislative approvals. The situation in Uruguay is summarised by Pew Forum this way:

On April 10, the lower house of the Uruguayan Congress passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, just one week after the country’s Senate did so. The measure now goes to President José Mujica, who is expected to sign it into law. Once the law takes effect, Uruguay will become the second Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, following Argentina. Civil unions have been permitted in Uruguay since 2008, and gay and lesbian couples were given adoption rights in 2009.

Uruguay is among the most secular countries in Latin America. A Pew Research Center study on the global religious landscape as of 2010 found that roughly four-in-ten Uruguayans are unaffiliated with a particular religion. About 58 percent of Uruguayans are Christian; in the Latin America-Caribbean region as a whole, 90 percent of the population is Christian.

And the New Zealand report from the same source is here:

On April 17, the New Zealand Parliament gave final approval to a measure that legalizes same-sex marriage, making the Pacific island nation the 13th country in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region, to allow gays and lesbians to wed. The measure won approval by a 77-44 margin in the country’s unicameral legislature, including support from Prime Minister John Key. The bill still must be signed by the country’s governor-general (a process known as royal assent), but that step is considered a formality. The bill is expected to take effect in August 2013.

In 2005, New Zealand enacted legislation allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. The 2013 measure not only legalizes same-sex marriage but also allows for gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.

There have been some fascinating video reports from New Zealand:

  • The public gallery in parliament breaks into song following the vote, singing the traditional Maori love song Pokarekare Ana.
  • New Zealand MP Maurice Williamson sums up his views on a gay marriage bill in hilarious fashion.

And this more serious speech at second reading stage may also be of interest, as it deals with several issues which are of equal concern here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 21 April 2013 at 3:27pm BST | Comments (24) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Do Christians really oppose gay marriage?

Updated Sunday lunchtime

Last Wednesday, John Bingham wrote in the Telegraph Gay marriage: church leaders at odds with opinion in the pews, study suggests

Despite vocal opposition to David Cameron’s plan to allow same-sex couples to marry from the leaders of almost all the major faith groups, the faithful are just as likely to support it quietly as oppose it, the survey found.
And when those who actively describe themselves as religious but do not attend services regularly are included, more Roman Catholics and Anglicans back the redefinition of marriage than oppose it, it suggests.
Notably, the polling found that within most religious groups there are also minorities who believe that same-sex marriage is wrong but still think that it should be allowed.
The findings emerge from a survey of more than 4,000 people, commissioned by the organisers of the regular Westminster Faith Debates.

The press release from the debate organisers is available: Press Release - ‘Do Christians Really Oppose Gay Marriage?’

Now Jonathan Clatworthy at Modern Church has written Gay marriage poll and Christian morality in a post that makes the detailed survey data much more accessible.

…Most churches claim to welcome everyone irrespective of sexual orientation, but only 21% of the public think they do. Given the overall balance of opinion among religious people, this is telling: clearly the opinions of church leaders are making gays and lesbians feel much less welcome than the average church thinks they would be.

Other predictors are age (the older you are the more likely you are to oppose it) and gender (disapproval is mostly a man’s thing).

Overall, the more emphasis people give to religious authority, the less they support same-sex marriage. Those most opposed are those who both claim certainty about belief in God and also make decisions primarily on the basis of explicit religious authorities. The poll sets them at 9% of the population.

So gone are the days when church leaders played an influential role in the moral debates of the nation. Now their pronouncements are only of interest to church members, and even they only treat them as authoritative if they agree with them anyway…

Update A post referencing this poll, among others, has now appeared at BRIN and is titled Politico-Religious News. The same-sex marriage topic is the first one it deals with.

…Overall, 44% of Britons disapproved of the opposition to same-sex marriage of the mainstream Christian Churches, with 33% choosing to back the Churches, and 23% uncertain. Hostility to the Churches’ stance against same-sex marriage was notable among Labour and Liberal Democrat voters (54% and 56% respectively), the 18-24s (56%), Scots (52%), degree-holders (54%), those professing no religion (60%), definite disbelievers in God (60%), and those whose lives were guided by science (55%). Agreement with the Churches’ line was concentrated among Conservatives (46%), the over-60s (51%), Baptists (60%), Muslims (52%), the self-styled religious (54%), individuals practising their faith (51%), definite believers in God (50%), and among those guided by religious leaders (65%), their religion (58%), religious teachings (57%), or God (56%).

Notwithstanding a tendency for people of faith to be disproportionately less disposed to same-sex marriage, among Christians who contended that same-sex marriage is wrong only 26% explicitly cited religion or scripture as the basis for their opposition. More common explanations of their position were the assertion that marriage should be between a man and a woman (79%), the claim that same-sex marriage would undermine the traditional family of a mother and a father (63%), and the conviction that it is not the best context in which to bring up children (52%). Christians who regarded same-sex marriage as right viewed the matter in terms of equality (77%) and the non-exclusivity of faithful love to heterosexual couples (70%).

It should be remembered that the fieldwork for this YouGov poll took place immediately before the Second Reading debate on the Bill on 5 February, when the salience of same-sex marriage was very high in respect of public opinion and the media. It is possible that views have shifted somewhat since, because either a) the salience of the issue has dropped, b) the fall-out from the Cardinal O’Brien affair in Scotland has made Church lobbying against the Bill somewhat less credible in England and Wales, or c) some Christians accept the inevitability of the Bill becoming law, given the substantial Commons majority at Second Reading.

On the last point, it is certainly the case that the Churches have had to accommodate themselves to all manner of things over the years which instinctively they did not like the sound of. These include civil partnerships which, however lauded by most Church leaders now (as justification for same-sex marriage not being needed), were widely opposed by people of faith at the time of their introduction.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 20 April 2013 at 9:00pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

opinion

David Murrow explains Why traditional churches should stick with traditional worship.

The Church Times has this leader: Evidence of evil.

Christopher Howse writes in his Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph about The man who rewrote Bunyan.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 20 April 2013 at 11:05am BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 19 April 2013

Virginia Supreme Court rules in favour of TEC

It has been a full year since we last reported on the long-running property disputes between CANA and the Diocese of Virginia. (Previous reports here, and also here.)

This week the Supreme Court of Virginia made a ruling. Here is the Diocese of Virginia press release: Supreme Court of Virginia rules in favor of diocese.

In a dispute over the ownership of The Falls Church, the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled today in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church. The decision affirms an earlier ruling returning Episcopalians to their church home at The Falls Church in Falls Church, Va. The Falls Church Anglican had sought to overturn the lower court’s ruling in favor of the Diocese. The court also remanded a portion of the case back to the Fairfax Circuit Court for a decision to determine a minor fractional difference in funds owed to the Diocese of Virginia.

“We are grateful that the Supreme Court of Virginia has once again affirmed the right of Episcopalians to worship in their spiritual home at The Falls Church Episcopal,” said the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of Virginia. “This decision ensures that Episcopalians will have a home for years to come in Falls Church, and frees all of us, on both sides of this issue, to preach the Gospel and teach the faith unencumbered by this dispute.”

The court also held that the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church have a trust interest in the property, in addition to the contractual and proprietary interests already found by the lower court. This provides greater certainty regarding church property ownership.

“The Falls Church Episcopal has continued to grow and thrive throughout this difficult time,” said Edward W. Jones, secretary of the Diocese and chief of staff. “This ruling brings closure to a long but worthwhile struggle, and will allow the members of the Episcopal congregation to put the issue behind them and to focus their full energies on the ministries of the Church. We hope that The Falls Church Anglican will join us in recognizing this decision as a final chapter in the property dispute.”

Bishop Johnston added, “We pray that all those who have found spiritual sustenance at The Falls Church Episcopal and our other churches will continue to move forward in a spirit of reconciliation and love.”

Nearly a year ago, the Diocese settled the conflict over property with six other congregations. The Falls Church Episcopal and the other continuing and newly formed congregations, including Church of the Epiphany, Herndon; St. Margaret’s, Woodbridge; St. Paul’s, Haymarket; and St. Stephen’s, Heathsville, spent the past year growing their membership, supporting outreach and strengthening their church communities. Members of the Diocese have joined them in these efforts through Dayspring, a diocesan-wide initiative that is bringing a spirit of vision and rebirth to our shared ministries as a church.

Read the full opinion of the Supreme Court of Virginia online.

Some press reports:

Washington Post Episcopal Church wins Virginia Supreme Court ruling

Falls Church News-Press Virginia Supreme Court Upholds Decision Conveying Falls Church Property to Diocese

Update
There is a letter from The Reverend John Yates to the CANA congregation: The Falls Church statement on VA Supreme Court decision.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 10:16pm BST | Comments (61) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

Wycliffe Hall Appoints New Principal

Wycliffe Hall announced earlier this week that their new principal is to be the Revd Dr Michael Lloyd.

Dr Lloyd is Chaplain of Queen’s College, Oxford. He brings nine years’ experience of teaching in theological colleges, as a Tutor in Theology at St Paul’s Theological Centre (a constituent part of St Mellitus College, London) and formerly a Tutor in Doctrine at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He was Honorary Curate and Director of Training at St James the Less, Pimlico. His prior ministry was as Chaplain of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and earlier as Chaplain and Director of Studies in Theology at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He is the author of a popular-level systematic theology, entitled Café Theology, and is one of the regular voices on the Godpod (a theological podcast).

Dr Lloyd holds degrees in English from Cambridge University, Theology from St John’s College, Durham and a DPhil in Theology from Oxford University, where his doctoral thesis was on the problem of evil. He loves walking, theatre, cricket, music and Handel operas…

Madeleine Davies reports in the Church Times that Students dub next Principal of Wycliffe ‘Dr Evil’.

The press release includes these comments.

The Rt Revd Michael Hill, Chairman of Council said:

“I am truly delighted with Michael’s appointment. He brings a depth of biblical knowledge and theological teaching, together with an experience of the life of theological colleges to bear on this new ministry. We have every confidence that he is the person to lead Wycliffe forward in these challenging times for theological education and training. We look forward to welcoming him into the life of the college and he can be assured of our prayers as he contemplates this new phase of his ministry.”

Dr Michael Lloyd said:

“At a time when Christianity is under more intellectual attack than it has been since the eighteenth century, we need Christian leaders of impressive intellectual ability, rigour and creativity. As a Permanent Private Hall of Oxford University, Wycliffe is in an outstanding position to give its students the academically excellent education that they will need if they are to make the case for the Christian faith in the contemporary climate, and to shape that climate. I am determined that Wycliffe should build a reputation for being a warm, respectful, encouraging and secure place for women to train alongside men, for all forms of ordained ministry. And I am passionate about Wycliffe training students who will speak to the wider society and not just to insiders, and who will be fluent in the language of the culture, and not just the dialect of the church. I am enormously excited by the prospect of working with the Staff, Council and Students towards these goals.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 11:48am BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

The CofE and Executive Remuneration

Updated Friday to add Church Times and Independent articles.

The Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group has today published its Executive remuneration policy.

The accompanying press release starts

The national investing bodies of the Church of England have today published a policy on executive remuneration adopted on the recommendation of the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG).

With the UK company AGM season getting under way, the national investing bodies will use the policy to determine their voting on remuneration reports and their engagement on executive remuneration with the companies in which they hold shares.

EIAG Chair James Featherby said: “Executive directors perform difficult and important roles that require high levels of skill, enterprise and innovation. All staff should be rewarded fairly and executive director roles understandably command good salaries. Our recommendations focus on bonuses. We want to see lower annual bonuses and greater emphasis on rewarding executives who manage ethical, social and environmental issues well and so deliver enduring corporate success over periods of five to seven years.”

The full press release is copied below the fold.

There is, not surprisingly, much press interest.

John Bingham in The Telegraph Church of England’s £8bn assault on ‘culture of entitlement and greed’ in City bonuses

In an overhaul of its own investment policy to be announced today, the Church – which controls more than £8 billion of assets – announced it will attempt to vote down any bonus worth more than an executive’s basic salary…

Rupert Neate in The Guardian CofE tells its fund managers to vote down excessive bonuses

The Church of England has instructed its fund managers to “challenge the bonus culture” and vote down pay policies that grant bosses more than 100% of their salary in annual bonuses…

Hannah Kuchler in the Financial Times Church loses faith in big bonuses

The Church of England has vowed to vote against outsized bonuses and short-term incentives as it tries to revive the spirit of last year’s shareholder spring at upcoming annual meetings…

Madeleine Davies in the Church Times Church investors urged to challenge ‘vastly unequal’ bonuses

Bonuses awarded to executive directors that exceed 100 per cent of their basic salary, should be challenged by the national investing bodies of the Church of England, a new policy published by the Church’s Ethical Advisory Group (EIAG), states.

The policy on executive renumeration has been adopted by the investing bodies, which will use it to determine their voting on the renumeration reports of the companies in which they hold shares…

John Collingridge in The Independent Church of England brings multi-billion voting clout into play against excessive City bonuses

The Church of England plans to use its £3 billion voting clout to tackle excessive City bonuses as it seeks to reignite last year’s “shareholder spring”.

The Church, which holds a significant amount of its £8 billion assets as shares in companies, said it will challenge the City’s bonus entitlement culture by rejecting soaring director pay deals as the annual meeting season gets under way.

Church of England ethical investment Executive Remuneration
19 April 2013

The national investing bodies of the Church of England have today published a policy on executive remuneration adopted on the recommendation of the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG).

With the UK company AGM season getting under way, the national investing bodies will use the policy to determine their voting on remuneration reports and their engagement on executive remuneration with the companies in which they hold shares.

EIAG Chair James Featherby said: “Executive directors perform difficult and important roles that require high levels of skill, enterprise and innovation. All staff should be rewarded fairly and executive director roles understandably command good salaries. Our recommendations focus on bonuses. We want to see lower annual bonuses and greater emphasis on rewarding executives who manage ethical, social and environmental issues well and so deliver enduring corporate success over periods of five to seven years.”

Policy analysis

The policy states that the EIAG and national investing bodies “value the contribution to society of those who lead our public companies”. It accepts that, while “it is a fundamental tenet of Christianity that all individuals are equal before God”, differentials in remuneration can be justified.

“But”, the policy states, “it is important that such differentials are justified by some reasonable calculus linking higher rewards to greater contribution, skills and responsibility and that those who are lower paid are also rewarded fairly”.

The analysis in the policy of trends in executive remuneration finds that, in FTSE 100 companies as a whole, executive remuneration has become misaligned with revenues, profits and shareholder returns.

Concerns focus on annual bonuses which “appear to have come to be regarded as an entitlement” for executive directors and can encourage corporate short-termism.

Policy recommendations

The policy recommends a number of principles for executive remuneration.

It states that “the national investing bodies should challenge the bonus culture” and should not expect executive directors in receipt of competitive salaries to be awarded annual bonuses of more than 100% of base salary for target performance.

“Awards of more than 100% of base salary can only be justified if an executive director has delivered extraordinary results through exceptional performance to the significant benefit of shareholders.”

The policy stresses the importance of schemes prioritising long-term over short-term performance. It argues that companies should have long-term incentive plans for executive directors covering periods of five to seven years which should be paid in shares held for the long-term.

Companies are encouraged to reward performance on ethical, social and environmental issues as well as financial issues. They should, for example take into account “ethical business conduct such as tax, bribery and treating customers fairly”, “respect for human rights and co-operation with those seeking to create the right conditions for a just society (e.g. NGOs, government)”, and “environmental sustainability (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, water efficiency)”.

Finally the policy states that “companies should approach remuneration and reward in a holistic way for all staff… They should disclose the way in which they monitor and manage internal pay differentials and trends”.

The Church of England’s National Church Institutions are all transparent about the remuneration they offer and the differentials within their organisations. Their annual reports each disclose remuneration ratios - both between the highest and lowest paid in the organisation, and between the highest paid and the median.

The policy concludes: “The system and culture of executive remuneration that has developed over the last 30 years, today faces unprecedented questioning. Turning the tide will take courage and leadership from both the non-executive directors who determine remuneration and the executive directors who receive it… We will work collaboratively and in particular support companies who take risks and model a different way of doing things.”

Notes

The Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) makes recommendations on ethical investment policy to the Church of England’s three national investing bodies. These are the Church Commissioners for England, the Church of England Pensions Board and the CBF Church of England Funds managed by CCLA. Together they hold assets in excess of £8bn. For further information visit www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/eiag.

The EIAG includes representation from the General Synod, the Archbishops’ Council and the Council for Mission and Public Affairs as well as the investing bodies.

The EIAG has no investment powers of its own but acts in a wholly advisory capacity. It is the responsibility of the Trustees of each separately constituted investment body to decide whether to implement the advice given.

The national investing bodies were active participants in the ‘Shareholder Spring’ in 2012. They pulled together a coalition of investors with more than £1.5 trillion of investments to write to the Daily Telegraph to express concern about executive remuneration as last year’s AGM season opened and supported only about a third of UK remuneration reports.

The new ethical investment policy on executive remuneration.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 10:04am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Church Times: marriage report published earlier than planned

The Church Times has an article by Madeleine Davies headlined Committee member writes alternative marriage paper.

Much of the article is devoted to summarising that paper, which TA readers will already have seen here. But the article also contains some additional information:

…Speaking on Monday, Dr Methuen said that the article was published “as a contribution to the current debate”. The Commission’s paper was published a month earlier than originally planned, so that the publication of the two coincided.

The Commission’s paper was a response to its task to produce “a theological justification of the Church of England’s current position. This is obviously something very different from what my own piece is doing,” Dr Methuen said. “There is always a balance to be struck between the views of the individual members of the Commission, and the work the Commission produces…

And this:

…On Monday, the Revd Thomas Seville CR, a member of the Commission, said that the report was “as clear as it could be” on the question of what it refers to as “accommodations” for same-sex couples.

“The issue of producing a report in soundbites, which has its temptations, is that you end by giving people something superficial. ‘Well-designed accommodation’ is a good one, it leaves things open which we should not really have been speculating on.” The Commission had been “mindful” of the fact that the Pilling Review, which is looking at the Church’s approach to sexuality, is due to report: “We did not want to be messing up their patch,” he said.

The Commission had been “very concerned not to make judgements or condemnation about other forms of relating, but we were stating positively what the Church of England actually taught.” There was much discussion of the FAOC paper, but it was agreed that it should be sent on to the House of Bishops Standing Committee, and then to the House of Bishops.” Fr Seville said he hoped that the Commission would look at the issues raised in Dr Methuen’s paper in the future…

The article does not explain why the report was published a month earlier than planned.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 8:36am BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Archbishop to meet LGBT Anglicans and Peter Tatchell

Updated again Saturday

The Archbishop of Canterbury will have two separate meetings today relating to LGBT issues:

First in the morning he will meet representatives of the LGB&T Anglican Coalition. There is information about this available here.

A meeting between the LGB&T Anglican Coalition and the Archbishop has been arranged for the 18th April. Major points which the Coalition wishes to put to the Archbishop are as follows:

How does the Archbishop intend to get a better understanding and appreciation of the frustration LGBT Christians are experiencing in the Church of England and what plans does he have to address this? How aware is the Archbishop that some parishes are inhospitable places for LGB&T people? Will he take a lead in helping to make it a safer place for them? If so, how and when does he propose to do this? How much experience does the Archbishop have of transgender people, and what are his thoughts and plans for greater transgender inclusion in the Church of England. What are the Archbishop’s views on the Church of England permitting churches to offer prayer and dedication (or prayer and thanksgiving) for couples who have had a civil partnership (or civil marriage) ceremony? What are the Archbishop’s views on liturgies of blessing for same sex couples? What protection can clergy who are in Civil Partnerships expect from diocesan bishops who are openly hostile to such couples and are perceived as deeply homophobic? What opportunities might there be for the care of LGB&T ordinands at theological colleges? The Archbishop’s views on the need for greater education on LGB&T issues within the Church of England. The Archbishop’s views on the House of Bishops reports on Civil Partnerships and Human Sexuality.

Second in the afternoon he will meet Peter Tatchell. There is a press statement about that also: Archbishop Welby to meet Peter Tatchell. This follows the open letter he sent to the archbishop which TA reported here.

Updates Friday

There are several reports of the second meeting in the media; the press release from Peter Tatchell is here: Archbishop Welby struggles to support gay equality.
Telegraph Archbishop backs law change to allow straight civil partnerships
Independent New Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, backs civil partnerships for heterosexual couples
Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury ‘supports civil partnerships for heterosexuals’
Reuters Anglican head holds talks on gay marriage with activist

Update Saturday

Peter Tatchell has written this further article: Discrimination is unchristian. The church must stop it.

…Archbishop Welby is clearly struggling to reconcile his support for loving, stable same-sex relationships with his opposition to same-sex marriage. I got the impression that he wants to support gay equality but feels bound by church tradition. He accepts that discrimination is not a Christian value but can’t bring himself to state publicly that banning gay couples from getting married is discrimination and wrong.

The Archbishop told me “gay people are not intrinsically different from straight people” but there is an “intrinsic difference in the nature of same-sex relationships” and this is a sufficient reason to deny gay couples the right to marry, even in civil ceremonies in register offices. When pressed to say why this “intrinsic difference” justified banning same-sex marriage he merely replied: “They are just different.”

I’m an optimist. I want to believe the best in people. That’s why I am hopeful that in time the Archbishop will resolve his moral dilemmas and encourage the church to move closer to gay equality. He struck me as a genuine, sincere, open-minded person, willing to listen and rethink his position. I’m ready to give him a chance. Time will tell…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 April 2013 at 10:00am BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

CofE marriage report: last November's Questions in Synod

At the General Synod meeting last November, some Questions were asked about the report that has recently been published.

The full transcript of Questions and Answers is available here, but the section relating to the report (pages 43-44) is copied in full below the line.

Readers may wish to ask themselves whether the report that has now been published fits the description given in the answer:

…The Committee saw no need for a review of the teaching document issued by the House in 1999. It did, however, ask the Commission to produce a short document summarizing the Church’s doctrine of marriage and taking account of further theological work that has appeared since.

The full text of the 1999 document mentioned above can be found here: Marriage: A Teaching Document (PDF).

18. Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark) asked the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Is it the case that the Faith and Order Commission has been invited by the House of Bishops to undertake work in relation to the Church’s teaching on marriage and, if so, who will be conducting that work on the Commission’s behalf?

19. Miss Rachel Beck (Lincoln) asked the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Given the concern expressed at the last group of sessions that the full diversity of beliefs on the issue of same-sex marriage that exist within the Church were not fully represented in the response submitted to HM Government’s consultation on the issue of same-sex marriage, can the House ensure that in any request for work in this area to the Faith and Order Commission it would be encouraged to look at the subject in all its fullness, a fullness which includes debating the possibility of blessing same-sex marriage?

The Archbishop of York (Dr John Sentamu), replied as Chairman of the House of Bishops’ Standing Committee:
With permission, Chair, I will answer these Questions together.

At a meeting of the House of Bishops Standing Committee earlier this year the Bishop of Coventry, as chair of the Faith and Order Commission, asked whether the Committee wished the Commission to undertake any further work on the Church of England’s teaching on marriage. The Committee saw no need for a review of the teaching document issued by the House in 1999. It did, however, ask the Commission to produce a short document summarizing the Church’s doctrine of marriage and taking account of further theological work that has appeared since. The work is now well advanced.

Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark): At best, this sounds like a missed opportunity, given the amount of recent work on these matters, which deserves more serious –

The Chairman: You are making a speech, not asking a question.

Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark): I am coming to the question – which deserves more serious consideration than is possible in a short document. Who is advising the Commission and when will the report be published?

The Archbishop of York: That document has been asked for by the Standing Committee of the House. It will then go to the House of Bishops to decide how, when, where and what will be published after consultation with the House. That is the process.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 at 3:45pm BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Monday, 15 April 2013

CofE marriage report: yet another critique

The Reverend Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente who is Vicar of St James, New Malden, has written a detailed critical article about the marriage report. You can read about it on the Inclusive Church website, here.

‘Men and Women in Marriage’ does not emanate from the church as a whole, not even from its synod. It was devised because the Faith and Order Commission suggested under their own steam to the bishops that it would be ‘timely to produce a short summary of the Church of England’s understanding of marriage.’ The bishops agreed. The document that ensued is unfortunately neither distinctly Anglican, nor a summary of anything, nor is it short. Any attempt to make sense of it needs to be a bit lengthy. I am as sorry about this as I am about the introduction’s rather disingenuous claim that the whole thing is merely offered to you for study. Issues in Human Sexuality was similarly ‘commended for study’ but seems to have acquired more authority than canon law and is still sadly used to bludgeon gay faithful and liberal clergy some 25 years later. Never lose heart however, the document is shockingly careless in its scholarship, sometimes poorly argued, but very conveniently divided into small paragraphs easy to confute…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 15 April 2013 at 8:38pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Church in Wales Governing Body: report of meeting

See our earlier report here.

There is now a “Highlights” report of the meeting available as a PDF file.

There is further detail about the church’s position in respect of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the (bi-lingual) report of the Standing Committee.

There are some interesting Ministry Statistics in this report.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 15 April 2013 at 3:17pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church in Wales

proposed new diocese for West Yorkshire

We last reported on this in March when the synods of the three dioceses most affected voted on the proposals, with two in favour and one opposed.

The final vote was on Saturday when Blackburn diocesan synod voted in favour. The diocesan website has this report.

Blackburn Diocese has voted to accept the recommendations of the Dioceses Commission in relation to the proposed creation of a new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

The vote means that a cluster of parishes currently sitting in Bradford Diocese may now move within the borders of Blackburn Diocese. The decision is part of ongoing work to create a new combined Diocese via the dissolution of the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds…

Now all the votes are complete, and as consent has not been given by one of the dioceses directly affected, the next step is for the Archbishop of York to decide whether to allow the scheme to go forward for debate at General Synod meeting (possibly in July).

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 15 April 2013 at 11:10am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Sunday, 14 April 2013

more responses to the CofE marriage report

Earlier responses are here, here, here, and here. I’ve still not seen any attempt, except on Twitter, to defend the report.

Alan Wilson has added this graphic comment: Kismet.

Jonathan Clatworthy has added a further piece: Cuckoo in the nest?

From the USA, Mark Harris has written Is it time for Anglican communion by free association?

Anne Brooke has written Equal Marriage: the Work of The Devil?

Frank Cranmer agreed with me that much the funniest response remains this one.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 6:51pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 13 April 2013

opinion

Bishop David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, wrote about Secularisation for The Sunday Times. The article, Have faith in future of our churches, is behind the paywall, but may be read here on the SEC’s website, and downloaded as a Word document from the bishop’s blog.

Leigh Anne Williams has interviewed the soon-to-retire Bishop of New Westminster for Anglican Journal: Ingham reflects on the storms of his career.

Finally, I apologise for the slight delay in noting this article from the Church Times: Matrimonial ‘indignities’.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 11:00am BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 12 April 2013

Another response to CofE report: Marriage and Diversity

Jonathan Clatworthy at Modern Church has written a response to the CofE report, which is titled Marriage and Diversity.

This is a response to the document Men and Women in Marriage by the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission, published on 10 April 2013. The accompanying press release makes clear its purpose, that ‘public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone’, so there should not be public blessings of gay partnerships.

Much of the document is a general account of the purpose of marriage, and is to be commended. As such it is timely. Over the past 60 years the Church’s earlier restrictive teaching about marriage, partnerships and sexual relationships has been rejected and then forgotten by British society at large, which now openly tolerates a wider range of relationships and often expresses moral indignation at those who disapprove of gay partnerships or single parents. However a complete free-for-all is also unsatisfactory. Most people need some guidance, and the experience of the ages does reveal that some types of relationship are more satisfactory than others. For the Church to revisit its teaching on marriage with the positive aim of offering pastoral guidance on relationships is much needed.

Sadly, Men and Women in Marriage does not perform this role. Instead it aims to rescue as much as it can from earlier restrictive teaching, offering minimal concessions to alternatives. It does this by appealing to natural law to affirm the role of marriage but then departing from natural law to define it very tightly and to treat marriage so defined as the ‘norm’ (§§48, 49)…

And Jonathan has also written in a lighter vein: We don’t want the riff-raff having marriages.

…The document tells us that ‘public discussion at this juncture needs a clear view of why Christians believe and act in relation to marriage as they do, and this statement is offered as a resource for that’ (§4). Yet the authors know perfectly well that Christians believe and act in a wide variety of different ways, many quite contrary to what the document recommends. In other words, while claiming to tell us how Christians believe and act, it is really telling us how they think Christians ought to believe and act. It is an example of that technique we used to associate with conservative evangelicals, of claiming that anyone who disagrees with their opinions cannot be a Christian.

Perhaps the saddest thing about it is that it’s yet another example of the batten-down-the-hatches mood in the Church’s higher echelons. After a disastrous year last year – Anglican Covenant, women bishops, gay marriages – they still haven’t, apparently, learned that they can’t stop the world. If they think gay partnerships, divorce et al are all to be condemned, they should explain their reasons and allow truth to emerge from open debate – not pontificate from on high, and so erroneously, about ‘how Christians believe and act’.

One cannot help suspecting that this document is all about power relations in the hierarchy. The proposal for an Anglican Covenant began as an attempt to ‘discipline’ churches with openly gay bishops. That and the chaos over women bishops revolved around threats of schism. At times of intense disagreement, some are quick to put on their boxing gloves while others are determined to keep the peace, whatever the cost to those whose needs don’t fit the theory. We should be able to do better than this.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 6:14pm BST | Comments (27) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Church Times: ignore this marriage report

The Church Times has published the following leader comment:

On Marriage

THE kindest thing to do with the new report Men, Women and Marriage is to ignore it. It contributes nothing new to the present debate about how different forms of relationship might constitute marriage. It speaks of a unique relationship between a man and a woman without ever explaining this contention. Seldom clear, the text adopts a particular obscurity whenever a contentious matter is touched upon, such as the complementarity of the sexes. Yet it combines this with a dogmatism that is at odds with its purpose as a study document. What on earth were the Bishops thinking when they agreed to its publication?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 2:18pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Marriage: one man and one woman?

A member of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England, The Revd Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen, has published an article at Our Kingdom under this title: Marriage: one man and one woman?

This week the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission published a statement on marriage. (PDF) It makes the case that marriage is between one man and one woman. Traditionally this has been true in England for a long time, and the Commission (made up of bishops, clergy and laity who advise the church on doctrine) was asked to offer a theological justification for the Church of England’s current position. But is this the way marriage has always been conceived? And does it have to be?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 11:55am BST | Comments (50) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Anglican Catholic Future launches on 18 April

The launch of Anglican Catholic Future will take place at a Mass on Thursday 18th April at 7pm at the Church of the Annunciation, Marble Arch. The celebrant will be the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, and the preacher will be Fr Peter Groves, Vicar of St Mary Magdalene, Oxford.

The website is here.

The launch statement reads:

Over the past two years a number of us in the Catholic tradition who love the Church of England have been meeting to pray and think about how this Catholic identity and inheritance, mission and vision, might be celebrated and strengthened. We feel it is timely to launch this initiative to meet the challenges of our time, and in doing so our aim is to complement rather than compete with existing Catholic groupings, which is why we are deliberately adopting a network model of association.

This is our working statement. We hope you will join us in this new venture of faith.

As Anglicans from across the Church of England who have been formed and nourished in the Catholic tradition, we have established a network to help to inspire and equip clergy and laity for the work of Christian mission and ministry rooted in Catholic practice, piety and theology. By returning to the fundamentals of the apostolic faith, but without recourse to political agendas and party rivalries, we seek the renewal and revitalisation of the church’s mission and apologetic proclamation.

The Catholic identity of the Church of England has suffered a crisis stemming from a preoccupation with divisive issues. As a result the Catholic tradition in Anglicanism has become fragmented and nerveless. Many who hold this tradition dear feel that the time is right to rediscover our Catholic roots and values for the sake of the church’s witness in our land.

Following the imperatives that guided our Catholic forebears in the Church of England we will focus on
ž
* theology
* spirituality and the life of prayer
* liturgy and worship
ž* vocation and priesthood
ž* ecumenism
ž* social justice.

We will seek to model a style of discipleship faithful to the riches of our tradition, which encourages us to be creative and credible, imaginative and generous.

Generosity requires dialogue with other Christian traditions, especially those with whom we share a common heritage of spiritual understanding within the Western Church. Such dialogue will be pursued in an eirenic rather than a combative spirit.

We believe that the time has come for the implicit Catholic identity of our church to be made explicit. We look back to the Oxford Movement and the tradition on which it was built, and forward to the revitalisation of our church and nation as we recall our secularising culture to its spiritual inheritance.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 10:40am BST | Comments (32) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Church in Wales Governing Body meets

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales is meeting today and tomorrow in Lampeter.

The agenda documents can be found here.

This press release: Ministry is for everyone, not just vicars - Archbishop of Wales was accompanied by the full text of Presidential Address by Archbishop Barry Morgan.

Media reports:

BBC Gay marriage report ordered by Church in Wales and Archbishop of Wales on same sex marriage changes

Wales Online Church in Wales to look again at gay marriage under radical changes proposed by Archbishop of Wales

Daily Post Archbishop Barry Morgan present vision for Church in Wales

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 11:10pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church in Wales

initial reactions to the CofE marriage document

Updated again 9 am Friday

Bishop Alan Wilson wrote Gay Marriage: Must Try Harder. Here’s a portion, but do read it all:

The Lion has Roared. The faith and order commission of the General Synod, no less, has uttered its mind on marriage equality.

Marriage is the faithful committed permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman central to the stability and health of human society

What would happen if we simply substituted “between two people”?
Well, very little has happened, actually, in jurisdictions that have done that.

Belgium remains, after ten years, a drably conventional place, where people are married and given in marriage.

In Belgium, Gay people are not forced to marry people of the opposite sex and pretend to be what they are not. A small number of them choose a life of marital commitment together. Er, that’s it.

But apparently this is what will happen in the UK:

When marriage is spoken of unclearly or misleadingly it distorts the way couples try to conduct their relationships and makes for frustration and disappointment. The reality of marriage between one man and one woman will not disappear as a result of any legislative change, for God has given us this gift and it will remain part of our created human endowment. The disciplines of living in it may become more difficult to acquire and the path to fulfillment in marriage and in other relationships more difficult to find.

Really? How would that be? Has anyone ever met any couple to whom this happened?

Changing Attitude has three articles:
Colin Coward Church of England refuses to bless gay relationships – another nail in the coffin and
The Telegraph’s inaccurate optimism about gays in the Church
and Christina Beardsley Keeping us all in order.

Tobias Haller has written Status Quo Vadis.

Maybe the Beaker Folk have understood the report best, Ceremony of Not Blessing Things We’d Rather Not Think About.

Updates
Mark Vernon has written Where’s the good news? Here is an extract, but again do read it all:

…3. What is dismaying, then, is not that there is no overt policy change. Rather, it is the poor quality of the theology, history and psychology on display in the document. This highlights the deeper impact of a prior policy constraining a genuine process of discernment and exploration. The document reads defensively and often rather literally-minded. There is little good news in it, not fundamentally because there is no policy change, but because it conveys such a narrow vision of human love and sexuality.

4. The non-negotiable, hard place is that marriage is a ‘creation ordinance’, defined as between a man and a woman, as apparently implied in Genesis. This is either making the norm the rule or reducing the rich myths of Genesis to a formula. If it’s the former, it’s simply a category error. If it’s the latter, it’s an appallingly reductive reading of scripture that strips it of life. (In fact, the Biblical treatment often amounts to little more than proof-texting. For example, St Paul in 1 Corinthians is cited to show that men and women are ‘not independent’ of each other, which is tantamount to a truism, the proof-texting charge evidenced as if that was St Paul’s last word on the matter.)

5. The idea that Genesis sanctions the nuclear family is, actually, a modern idea: I believe it can be traced to John Locke’s 1690 Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government. Then, a legal definition of marriage was required because before, committed relationships had gained their social sanction by being made before God. Also, before then, families rarely looked like Adam and Eve under the fig tree because people died too often: hodgepodge families seem far more likely to have been the norm. (The document inadvertently shows it’s modern roots by quoting the slightly earlier Jeremy Taylor. Presumably one of the committee had a dictionary of quotations to hand, as there is no sign that Taylor’s thoughts on love and friendship are reflected upon in any deep way. Further, Taylor is quoted as if in support of marriage as a paradigm of society, when the word ‘society’ did not mean a form of social organisation at the time, but merely human company.)

6. The point about modern prejudices is important because it makes the report blind to the diversity of relationships available to Christians in the medieval and ancient periods. We live in an exceptional age in which marriage has a monopoly. As writers from Alan Bray (The Friend) to Rowan Williams (Lost Icons) have argued, ours is actually the idiosyncratic period, one that has depleted our relational imaginations. (In a presumably unintentionally humorous moment, the document considers the ‘exogamy’ of the Old Testament, arguing that it was intended ‘to be of limited scope’. Lucky Abraham.)

7. The document says that the lack of a clear understanding of marriage makes for ‘disappointments and frustrations’. I doubt whether marriage guidance experts would agree. Rather, it’s an inability to tolerate difference and diversity in marriages that makes it so rigid and unbearable that it falls apart in people’s hands.

8. Discerning the goodness of God in the natural world is advocated. Now, of course, natural goodness is tricky to discern in a fallen world. The document nods to the arts and sciences in helping with that. But a paragraph or two after this moment of openness, it shrinks back to a narrow biologism that would embarrass even Richard Dawkins: our biological existence, apparently, means one man, one woman. The fact that homosexuality exists in nature is ignored. God can bless same-sex swans raising cygnets together, but not same-sex humans…

Lesley Crawley has usefully provided us with a wordle of the report in her article: How would you describe marriage? and also So has the Church of England changed its stance on Blessing Civil Partnerships?

Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington have written Men and Women in Marriage and the Church of England

…The Report itself actually has very little to say about same-sex relationships (it is, after all, about marriage) other than a rather gnomic statement in paragraph 49 about

“… accommodations for specific conditions, bearing witness in special ways to the abiding importance of the norm. Well-designed accommodations proclaim the form of life given by God’s creative goodness and bring those in difficult positions into closer approximation to it. They mark the point where teaching and pastoral care coincide.”

The problem, it strikes us, is this: that the Church appears to be trying to have it all ways at once. Either you decide on biblical grounds that same-sex relationships are wrong in all circumstances and stick to that (which is an entirely consistent position even if it is one that looks increasingly at odds with the views of wider society) or you decide that they are not – in which case when you try to accommodate them you run the risk of getting tangled up in conflicting arguments in the way that is currently engulfing the C of E. But seeming to suggest that same-sex relationships are not always wrong and then maintaining that, nevertheless, they are basically second-class strikes us as the worst of all worlds – and much the most difficult position to defend, whether intellectually or pastorally.

Two more articles by Colin Coward Reactions to “Men and Women in Marriage” and Critiques of “Men and Women in Marriage”.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 11:00pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

press reports on new CofE marriage document

Updated again Friday morning

Confusing headlines in this morning’s newspapers:

Telegraph John Bingham Church of England gives blessing to recognising civil partnerships

A report from the Church’s doctrine watchdog urged priests to devise “pastoral accommodations” for gay couples” and to be “flexible”.
It said the aim was to enable them to enjoy a “closer approximation” to marriage.
The senior bishop who drafted the missive to priests insisted that it did not amount to a policy u-turn and that an official ban on formal “blessings” for civil partnerships remained in place.
But he said it was clear there was a need for committed same-sex couples to be given recognition and “compassionate attention” from the Church, including special prayers.
Liberal priests, who already conduct unofficial dedication and thanksgiving for gay couples who are not allowed to marry, said it amounted to the first official endorsement for what they do…

Guardian Sam Jones Church of England rejects blessings for same-sex couples

The Church of England has ruled out offering blessings to same-sex couples, insisting that such public gestures belong only to heterosexual marriage.
The announcement – made in a report from the church’s faith and order commission entitled Men and Women in Marriage – comes weeks after the outgoing bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, suggested the church consider blessing gay couples as it should “bless true love wherever such love is found”.
The report stresses the church’s immutable definition of marriage as “a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, central to the stability and health of human society”, but recognises the existence of same-sex relationships, which it terms “forms of human relationships which fall short of marriage in the form God has given us”.
The bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, who chairs the commission, repeated the church’s commitment to providing “care, prayer and compassion” to those who cannot be married in church, but drew the line at blessings for gay couples. “Whilst it is right that priests and church communities continue to seek to provide and devise pastoral care accommodation for those in such situations, the document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone,” he said…

Express Church of England gay prayers plea

Pink News Blessings for same-sex couples rejected by Church of England

The headline in The Times last night read Bishops stop short of giving blessing to civil partnerships but a subscription is needed to read the full article. Headline now changed to: Bishops devise way of ‘accommodating’ same-sex couples.

A new report on marriage has caused dismay among parts of the Church of England because of its failure to offer official blessings to civil partnerships.
The report, commissioned by the House of Bishops, stops short of endorsing formal public blessings and instead offers priests vague instructions to “devise accommodations” for same-sex couples in their parishes.
These would include “prayer, care and compassionate attention” but would not be “services of blessing or public recognition”, but would not be “services of blessing or public recognition”, the Bishop of Coventry the document’s co-author, said…

Huffington Post Gay Couples ‘Should Be Accommodated’ By Church Of England Priests, Bishop Says

Church of England priests have been told to provide “accommodations” for gay couples in a new report.
This will include “prayer” and “compassionate attention” but not “formal public blessings” in the report, written by the Bishop of Coventry and entitled “men and women in marriage”.
It is understood that these prayers could take place inside parish churches.
The Right Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry said the church remained against same-sex marriage but wished to set “disagreements against a more positive background of how Christians have understood and valued marriage.”
Setting out guidelines, Rev Cocksworth writes: “The form of prayer will depend upon the particular circumstances of the particular case.
“But we are talking about that sort of pastoral care if you like, and prayer, rather than something which is more formal and more public. This is part of the private, the personal, compassionate attention that a priest would give to people. It is not about public, formal recognition.”
The bishop said it is up to parish priests “to make informed, sensible, loving and careful judgments”.
But “what the church doesn’t offer the parish priest is a service of blessing or public recognition”…

Daily Mail Steve Doughty Church of England may allow ‘responsible’ gay couples to have their relationships blessed by a priest

The Church of England yesterday signalled that gay couples should be able to have their relationships blessed in church.
It said priests may ‘devise accommodations’ for same-sex couples ‘who seek to engage with the challenges of life responsibly’.
It suggests that public prayers which recognise gay relationships could be introduced in church services by sympathetic clergy.
Yesterday’s paper, backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Justin Welby and the leading bishops, does not change the CofE laws which say homosexual activity is sinful and ban priests from blessing gay relationships.
But it appeared to encourage same-sex couples, saying the Church must show a ‘degree of flexibility’ over gay relationships, and adding: ‘the Church does not treat questions of what is possible in hard circumstances or exceptional conditions as simply closed.’
The proposal will infuriate traditionalists and is likely to reignite the bitter conflict within the Church over same-sex relationships.
The document likened the case of same-sex relationships to the controversy a decade ago over the remarriage of divorcees.
This ended with divorcees officially allowed to have second weddings in church, if they can find a sympathetic priest, even though CofE doctrines say marriage is for life…

Church Times Madeleine Davies Marriage: a ‘gift from God’ that does not include same-sex couples, says report

AN uncompromising document released this week reinforces the ban on public forms of blessing for those in same-sex relationships. And it states that, although the introduction of same-sex marriage will not make heterosexual marriage “disappear”, it may make “the path to fulfilment, in marriage and in other relationships, more difficult to find”.

…The report does not affirm those in “human relationships which fall short of marriage relationships”, in contrast to the response to the Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage, published last year, which stated that “same-sex relationships often embody genuine mutuality and fidelity” ( News, 15 June). Its language is more guarded, stating that: “in pastoral responses, a degree of flexibility may be called for in finding ways to express the Church’s teaching practically. . . The Church does not treat questions of what is possible in hard circumstances or exceptional circumstances as simply closed.”

..The Church, the new report suggests, can “devise accommodations for specific conditions, bearing witness in special ways to the abiding norm”. On Tuesday, Dr Cocksworth said: “The Church is here for all people, and those who find themselves in same-sex relationships and have committed to those, the Church treats those people with respect, with compassionate attention, with care and with prayer. The exact form of that prayer will depend on the case itself, the situation that is before the pastor.”

The document itself does not restate the ban on blessing same-sex relationships, but Dr Cocksworth said that the “well-designed accommodations” it mentions were “different from formal public blessings”. The press release accompanying the report states: “The document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone…”

A further version of this report is in this week’s Church Times with the headline Marriage is a gift, ‘but not if you’re gay’.

BBC Same-sex marriage: Church of England denies blessings

Update
Independent Outgoing Bishop of Liverpool wants ban lifted on same-sex partnership blessings and the ITV report on which this is based is here: Church of England conducting blessings for gay couples.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 7:07am BST | Comments (55) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

CofE publishes “Men and Women in Marriage”

Updated to include Notes

Church of England press release

“Men and Women in Marriage” – new document from Faith and Order Commission

The Church of England’s view of the long-established meaning of marriage has been outlined in a new report - “Men and Women in Marriage” - published this week by the Church’s Faith and Order Commission.

The publication (attached) includes a foreword from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York which commends the document for study. The report sets out the continued importance and rationale for the Church’s understanding of marriage as reflected in the 1,000 marriage services conducted by the Church of England every week.

The document also seeks to provide “a more positive background on how Christians have understood and valued marriage” arguing that marriage “continues to provide the best context for the raising of children”.

The report takes as its starting point the Church’s basic premise that “marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and means of His grace”. The document also seeks to enlarge the understanding of marriage defined as “a faithful, com mitted, permanent and legally sanctioned relations hip between a man and a woman, central to the stability and health of human society.”

Recognising the ongoing debate around marriage in society the report acknowledges that marriage “like most important undertakings in life, can be lived more successfully or less successfully. Mistakes are made, by couples, by their friends and relatives, and sometime by pastors and institutions of the church… Lack of clear understanding of marriage can only multiply disappointments and frustrations. Public discussion at this juncture needs a clear view of why Christians believe and act in relation to marriage as they do and this document is offered as a resource for that.”

The Bishop of Coventry Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Chair of the Commission said: “The Church has a long track record in conducting and supporting marriage, drawing from the deep wells of wisdom which inform centuries of shared religious and cultural understandings of marriage. There is a danger in the current debate of picking apart the institution of marriage which is part of the social fabric of human society.

“This report seeks to celebrate all that is good about marriage in its ability to bring together biological difference and the generative power of marriage to bring forth life. It also recognises that there are forms of human relationships which fall short of marriage in the form the God has given us.

“This report also underlines the role of the Church in seeking to provide care, prayer and compassion for those who for whatever reason are unable to receive the gift of marriage in the form that the Church has understood it and continues to uphold. Whilst it is right that priests and church communities continue to seek to provide and devise pastoral care accommodation for those in such situations, the document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone.”

A PDF copy of the report which is numbered as GS Misc 1046 is available here.

Notes

The Faith and Order Commission (FOAC) advises the House of Bishops, the General Synod and the Council for Christian Unity on ecclesiological and ecumenical matters and acts as a theological resource for the Church of England as a whole. More information can be found at http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/work-other-churches/ccu/faith-and-order-commission.aspx

Members of the Commission

Bishops
The Right Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry (Chairman)
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Ebbsfleet
The Right Revd Dr Brian Castle, Bishop of Tonbridge
The Right Revd Dr Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester
The Right Revd Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester.

Clergy
The Revd Canon Professor Loveday Alexander
The Revd Dr Cally (Carolyn) Hammond
The Revd Dr David Hilborn
The Revd Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen
The Revd Dr Jeremy Morris
The Revd Dr John Muddiman
The Revd Professor Oliver O’Donovan
The Revd Thomas Seville CR

Laity
Dr Mike Higton
Dr Cathy Ross

Secretary of the Commission
Dr Martin Davie

A draft report from the Commission was considered by the House of Bishops of the Church of England in December 2012 who authorised the Standing committee of the House to approve the final text and authorise publication. The Standing Committee approved the report in March 2013.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 1:00am BST | Comments (67) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

General Synod - Reports of Proceedings

We overlooked the verbatim Report of Proceedings of last November’s General Synod when it was published, but it is available for download: Report of Proceedings November 2012.

Reports back to February 2007 are available from this page and in most cases audio files are also available.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 6:58pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

WATCH meeting: Preparing for Elections

WATCH (London) Invitation

Preparing for Elections

Everyone is welcome to St James’s Church Piccadilly (nearest underground Piccadilly Station, Piccadilly Line or Green Park Station, Victoria and Jubilee Lines) on Wednesday 17 April 2013 from 6.45pm - 9.15pm

This event will provide an opportunity for us to prepare for the forthcoming elections to Deanery Synods now and in 2014 at which members vote for those standing for General Synod.

It is crucial we are prepared for this as soon as possible so that the expressed wishes of those in the Church who support Women Bishops can be properly represented.

Revd Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James’s, Piccadilly will give a key-note address.

The Revd Stephen France, Rector of Christ Church Brondesbury in the London Diocese will take us step by step through the synodical processes to secure a General Synod lay membership which represents far more accurately than the present House of Laity the overwhelming desire of church people to welcome women as bishops.

Pamphlets giving clear guidance will be provided at the meeting for distribution in your parishes. Individuals who have been closely involved in Synod’s various efforts to achieve women in the episcopate, members of General Synod past and present and from the National WATCH committee will be on hand to hear your views and experiences.

There will be time for questions and comments. We will end with Compline.

Light refreshments will be available.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 10:44am BST | Comments (17) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 6 April 2013

opinion

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian How do churches get new bums on seats? Get rid of the boring old ones.

Ysenda Maxtone Graham writes in The Spectator Brace yourself for the real experience of going to a rural parish service on Easter Sunday.

Sarah Coakley gave a series of ten Meditations on Holy Week at Salisbury Cathedral.

Diarmaid MacCulloch in The Guardian asks Who is the antichrist? Not Obama. Not even Satan, exactly.

This week’s Church Times has two comment articles available to non-subscribers
Paul Valleley The complex web of global hunger
Jonathan Bartley Now is the time to be subversive
and this leader Blaming the poor.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 11:00am BST | Comments (32) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Desmond Tutu awarded Templeton Prize

The Church Times reports: Tutu wins £1.1m Templeton Prize.

ARCHBISHOP Desmond Tutu was awarded the Templeton Prize on Thursday for “advancing spiritual principles such as love and forgiveness”.

The award, which is now worth £1.1 million, was established 40 years ago by the late global investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton, to reward a person “who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works”.

Dr Tutu will receive the prize at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London on 21 May. A celebration will be held next Thursday at St George’s Cathedral, Capetown…

The full text of the press release from the Templeton Foundation is currently here. Other background information is also available.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 8:30am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

News items from around the Anglican Communion

The Anglican Communion Office has published three reports of the business recently transacted by the Standing Committee, which met in late March. In case you’ve forgotten, the committee’s structure is explained here.

The reports of the 2013 meeting:

There have been several reports of the recent election of a primate for the Anglican Church of Tanzania.

First there was this announcement: New Archbishop elected by Anglican Church of Tanzania.

Then there was a follow-up item Tanzania bishops welcome Archbishop-elect Jacob Chimeledya.

And most recently there was this: Tanzania’s General Secretary clarifies Archbishop election.

…The Special Electoral synod of the Anglican Church of Tanzania met on 21st February 2013 in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Dodoma to elect the sixth Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania. Since then some unfounded accusations of corruption, bribery and tribalism surrounding the election of our new Archbishop have been made on the internet.
The internet can be used to develop relationships, but it can also be used to spread gossip and destabilize the church. None of those writing these false stories sought to confirm them with us. It is very sad that someone who did not attend the election would spoil what was confirmed by all our bishops as a fair and transparent election…

To understand what this refers to, see other earlier reports: here, here, and here. And then also here, and here.

And there is news from Uruguay via Anglican Journal: Pollesel election in Uruguay ratified.

The Anglican Province of the Southern Cone has reconsidered the diocese of Uruguay’s appeal and has voted to ratify the election of Archdeacon Michael Pollesel as co-adjutor bishop.

The decision came 10 months after the province’s house of bishops rejected Pollesel’s election. The Uruguayan diocesan synod had appealed the decision, but “for technical canonical reasons the form of the original appeal was not valid” and had to be presented again, said Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Hector Zavala in a press release.

The Southern Cone house of bishops and provincial executive council, “with joy and thankfulness to God,” ratified Pollesel’s election after new consideration of the appeal and the presentation of new background material, Zavala said…

Again, in case you had forgotten, here is the Anglican Journal earlier report on his rejection, and our own much earlier report about that diocese’s discomfort with the Southern Cone province.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 7:56am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Friday, 5 April 2013

Archbishop joins call on G8 to 'strike at causes of poverty'

Ed Thornton reports in the Church Times: No excuses on poverty goals, religious leaders warn G8.

EIGHTY religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have signed a letter warning the G8 group of world leaders not to use the financial crisis as an “excuse” to delay fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The letter was published in the Financial Times on Friday, 1000 days ahead of the deadline to meet the MDGs. The G8 leaders are scheduled to meet in the UK in June…

The full text of the letter can be read on the Lambeth Palace website (scroll down) and the full list of signatories is below the letter.

Financial crisis is not an excuse for missing Millennium Development Goals, say religious leaders. Supporters encouraged to add their voices on Twitter using#1000DaysToGo

With 1000 days left to achieve the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has joined religious leaders across the G8 urging governments to keep their promises on foreign aid.

Archbishop Justin is among 80 religious leaders who have signed a letter to the Financial Times today, urging G8 countries to follow the UK in meeting existing commitments to spend 0.7% of national income on aid.

With a focus on tax, trade and transparency, the religious leaders argue, the UK Presidency of the G8 has the potential to advance the MDG agenda in ways that strike at the underlying causes of poverty, in particular by ensuring the wealth created by developing countries is not lost through unfair tax practices, a lack of transparency or a failure to secure the benefits of trade for developing countries…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 5 April 2013 at 11:03pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Women Bishops in Wales

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales will be meeting on 10 and 11 April 2013. The agenda includes group discussion on women bishops, as this extract from a press release describes.

The ordination of women as bishops will be discussed by clergy and lay people from all over Wales at a key Church meeting next week.

Theological arguments for and against women bishops will be presented to members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body during its two-day meeting at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, in Lampeter, on April 10-11.

The 144 members will be put into seven groups, each facilitated by a bishop, to consider two papers – one outlining the case for the ordination of women and one setting out the case against.

The discussions are being held ahead of the introduction of a two-stage Bill to the Governing Body in September to ordain women as bishops. That legislation, however, will not be addressed by the groups next week.

The Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, says, “It is now five years since the last time that Governing Body considered the question of the ordination of women to the episcopate, and many of its members will have changed. The bishops feel it is important that Governing Body has the opportunity to explore the theological questions behind these issues, and understand the conscientious reasons why those opposed to the ordination of women to the episcopate would not be able to accept the sacramental ministry of a woman bishop as well as the theological reasons why those in favour believe that the time is right for such as a step.”

The discussions will take place on Thursday morning from 9.30am.

The full agenda is available online.

The Governing Body previously considered a bill to allow women to be bishops in April 2008. It was defeated then as it failed to achieve a two-thirds majority in the House of Clergy.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 4 April 2013 at 2:36pm BST | Comments (81) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church in Wales

Monday, 1 April 2013

Women Bishops round-up

Here are some recent items about women bishops and women’s ministry.

GRAS (Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) has published a spring newsletter. The major item in this is The central principle of justice and liberation for all women, the address given at the GRAS Conference and AGM held on 2 March 2013 by the Revd Canon Jane Charman.

Today’s Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 was about Women and the Christian faith.

Jane Garvey looks at the position of women in the Christian faith. Jane visits the Coventry parish of the Reverend Katrina Scott. Also taking part are the Rev’d Lorna Hood, Moderator Designate of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and also on the Woman’s Hour Powerlist; the Rev’d Anne Stevens, Vicar of St Pancras Parish Church, London, and part of the current consultation on women bishops and a member of WATCH (Women And The Church) which is campaigning for women bishops; Sister Catherine Wybourne, a Roman Catholic nun who runs a contemplative community in Herefordshire and Tweets under the name DigitalNun.

The programme can be listened to for the next seven days on the BBC iPlayer.

Damian Thompson reports in The Telegraph that Russian Orthodox tell Archbishop of Canterbury: ordain women bishops and you can forget about unity.

Madeleine Davies writes for the Church Times about a new book, Women and Men in Scripture edited by Stephen Croft and Paula Gooder: Support for women bishops ‘is biblical’.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 1 April 2013 at 12:01pm BST | Comments (53) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

YouGov poll on Religion for the Sunday Times

The Sunday Times commissioned a poll to provide it with a news story for Easter about the Church of England. This newspaper is behind a pay wall, but Reuters has this report: UK poll points to mistrust of clergy, lack of moral leadership.

Only around a half of Britons trust the clergy to tell the truth and a similar proportion think the Church of England does a bad job of providing moral leadership, a poll showed on Sunday.

The survey by pollster YouGov commissioned by Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper further showed that 69 percent of respondents thought the Church of England, mother church of the world’s 80-million-strong Anglican communion, was out of touch.

Forty percent of those polled said they did not trust priests, vicars and other clergy to tell the truth, and overall doctors, teachers and judges were rated as more trustworthy.

Fifty-four percent believe the Church of England has struggled to give moral leadership, the poll found…

Clive Field at British Religion in Numbers has reported at length on the survey, see Easter Day with the Sunday Times. Here’s a small extract, but do read the whole analysis.

Trust in clergy

54% have a great deal or fair amount of trust in priests, vicars, and other clergy to tell the truth, rising to 73% among Christians, with 40% having little or no trust in them. Clergy are the sixth equal most trusted profession on a list of eighteen occupations, the range being from 83% for family doctors to 13% for estate agents.

Church of England

31% contend that the Church of England is doing a good job in providing moral leadership, over-60s (38%) and Christians (55%) being especially inclined to think so (54% for Anglicans). A majority (54%, including 65% of Liberal Democrats, who are committed to disestablishment, and 37% of Anglicans) rates it as doing a bad job, with 16% unsure.

Still more, 69%, feel that the Church of England is out of touch, with particular highs for UKIP voters (75%) and Scots (76%). Even 53% of Christians take this line. Just 21% of all adults view the Church as being in touch, and no more than 28% of over-60s and 41% of Anglicans. 10% express no opinion on the subject.

A plurality (49%) say the Church of England is wrong to oppose same-sex marriage, including 66% of 18-24s, 63% of Liberal Democrats, 60% of Scots, and even 37% of Anglicans. 37% support the Church’s position, with 57% for the over-60s and 52% of Anglicans. 13% are undecided.

78% feel that the Church of England should allow women bishops, including 89% of Liberal Democrats, 85% of Anglicans, 83% of Conservatives, 82% of women and Scots. Opponents of women bishops number 9% overall but 19% of Catholics, 15% of UKIP supporters, and 13% of Londoners. 13% do not know what to think…

YouGov has published the full results of the poll on its own website, and they can be downloaded as a PDF from here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 1 April 2013 at 10:02am BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England